Whitehorse Daily Star

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VIGOROUS OPPOSITION – More than 9,000 people have signed a petition opposing quarrying operations at the Stevens site (above) in northwest Whitehorse. Map courtesy CITY OF WHITEHORSE

Stevens area takes step back from quarrying site

It’s looking like the Stevens area at the northwest tip of the city boundaries will be taken off the table as a future gravel quarry.

By Chuck Tobin on January 20, 2023

It’s looking like the Stevens area at the northwest tip of the city boundaries will be taken off the table as a future gravel quarry.

At its meeting Monday, city council approved second reading of the bylaw required to update the Official Community Plan (OCP) that will guide development in Whitehorse out to 2040.

It’s expected third and final reading will come back before council in six to eight weeks, after the required review by Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn.

Most of the discussion Monday regarding the OCP update centred around the future of the Stevens area, which contains one of the largest known gravel deposits in the city, if not the largest.

But there has been a major lobby effort to maintain the area abutting the Yukon River as wilderness enjoyed by many.

City administration is re-commending a portion of the Stevens area be designated in the OCP as natural resource extraction in order to provide granular resources.

But Coun. Ted Laking introduced an amendment to reject the administrative recommendation and not designate a portion of the Stevens area as a future quarry site.

The amendment was passed in a close 4-3 vote, with Mayor Laura Cabott and councillors Dan Boyd and Jocelyn Curteanu voting against the amendment.

In explaining his rationale for the amendment, Laking noted the petition received by the city signed by 9,400 people who want the Stevens area to be left as is and not used as a future quarry site.

Rejecting the designation as a future gravel source will show people that council did indeed listen to them, he said.

Laking said residents in a substantial area of the city, both the Hidden Valley and MacPherson subdivisions, have been very clear in their opposition to quarrying in the Stevens area.

Laking said he was in full support of the administrative recommendation to “initiate a study to determine the approximate lifespan and amount of granular resources remaining at current quarries within the city as well as identify potential future sources of granular resources.”

Both Premier Ranj Pillai and Energy, Mines and Resources Minister John Streicker, Laking noted, have said the Stevens area is not a priority for gravel extraction until 2025.

“So we have ourselves some breathing room,” Laking said.

He said if the study comes back saying the Stevens area is the only place conducive for quarrying, there is always the ability to change the OCP and allow future quarrying.

City manager Jeff O’Farrell said the idea of a study to look at granular resources in the city is a new action plan and the proposed study is very much in the early discussion phase.

Mike Gau, the city’s director of development services, told council the good news is that the Yukon government is already doing some work along with the Yukon Geological Survey looking at existing gravel resources and the aggregate potential.

The government is also looking at some of the availability questions, he said.

He said the government is trying to flush out the supply and demand scenario.

O’Farrell told council many communities protect their gravel resources.

“We could not imagine recommending an OCP that does not identify future granular resources as a designation within the OCP,” he said.

Gau noted the Stevens area was included in the city’s forecast of a 20-year supply.

The city does not have to have a 20-year supply scenario but it’s definitely best practice to have one, he said.

Gau said without Stevens, the city will have to look elsewhere to fill out its 20-year supply forecast, and that may be a product of the recommended study into gravel resources in the city.

Comments (12)

Up 5 Down 0

CJ2 on Jan 26, 2023 at 2:42 pm

Why did they shut down Annie Lake Trucking? It's baffling. Why wasn't the need for more gravel a factor in that decision, especially considering they probably only had a few more years supply. While I understand it was an important recreational area, unfortunately they let it happen and to then shut it down, perhaps prematurely, when the infrastructure and much of the disturbance was already done, it seems extravagantly arbitrary.

That's why people have to weigh in vigorously before they open these developments, although the city has certainly created reason to believe that operations may be shut down whenever they like, anyway, as well. Gravel? Urgent. Existing gravel quarry? Not so urgent.

I am curious about the almost 10,000 people who signed the petition, though. I didn't realize there were that many people there.

And as for the proposed study, it's about time.

Up 8 Down 2

Anie on Jan 24, 2023 at 3:05 pm

Well there we have it - "Elder" is relaying messages directly from the creator. No need for any further discussion.

Up 2 Down 4

Pebble merchant on Jan 24, 2023 at 5:49 am

I guess the city shouldn’t have trashtalked Annie Lake Trucking,maybe the city is just big enough we don’t need any more easterners.

Up 19 Down 4

TMYK on Jan 23, 2023 at 1:29 pm

A close and stable supply of gravel would reduce building costs. We can’t have that after all the money the government has funnelled into KDFNs latest business venture.

Up 10 Down 41

Elder on Jan 22, 2023 at 7:18 am

As guardians and protectors of our lands, we thank you for this decision.
The creator thanks you.

Mussi Cho. .

Up 9 Down 38

Elder on Jan 22, 2023 at 6:45 am

As guardians and protectors of our lands, we thank you for this decision.
The creator thanks you.

Mussi Cho. .

Up 13 Down 10

John on Jan 21, 2023 at 9:02 pm

Frankly I don't know too many folks who are established with a residence that would stand up and say "pick me, pick me - you can put a gravel pit beside my place". This is not an issue of NIMBY but rather common sense.

Who needs the extra level of noise, traffic, dust, etc? Don't know? How about you do a random survey of a couple of hundred people and ask them is you are so righteous as to believe that people are being selfish. If you don't look after your own interests no-one else will - this is especially true in the CoW!

Up 27 Down 1

Politico on Jan 21, 2023 at 3:25 pm

So where does the COW propose to get gravel to keep building housing? Hailing gravel is expensive and carbon intensive. Typical of politicians to make a commanding decision and not have to worry about the consequences! Since it appears that several politicians will be moving on they will never be held accountable for their decision!

Up 25 Down 9

Juniper Jackson on Jan 21, 2023 at 2:01 pm

I wouldn't trust this Council, or attempt any kind of agreement with them, or YTG. Liberals just can not be trusted. Wait until we have a new government and see where the cards fall.

Up 38 Down 3

Vlad on Jan 21, 2023 at 7:36 am

9400 signatures, just think about that for COW, we only have 30 thousand and I would think a percentage of those would be children under the age of 18, and then you would have people who could care less or those who think it’s a good idea to build another pit, yet 9400 people felt that inclined to sign, I would check those names and see if they are COW residences and who on the list is actually still alive.

Up 20 Down 2

Nathan Living on Jan 20, 2023 at 11:20 pm

In explaining his rationale for the amendment, Laking noted the petition received by the city signed by 9,400 people who want the Stevens area to be left as is and not used as a future quarry site.

Rejecting the designation as a future gravel source will show people that council did indeed listen to them, he said.

Follow the lobbying that is happing behind closed doors. Council will at some point deem it essential to extract gravel from small pit in this area which will be expanded and expanded until the resource is exhausted.

Follow the money? A petition means virtually nothing to the current council when there is intense lobbying and closed door meetings.

Up 25 Down 1

Crunch on Jan 20, 2023 at 8:59 pm

It’s a little bit interesting to watch people setting themselves up for a political run. There is no question Laking will be taking on Hanley in the next Fed election. He just let the cat out of the bag.

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